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So it looks like there were attempts but they had fatal design flaws and technology (metallurgy) was immature.

One question raised is why didn’t we see a trike come about before the bike?

It’s more stable and propulsion via direct front pedal isn’t as awkward as the front pedal bike.




While it’s maybe surprising, have you ever tried riding something with a 1:1 drive ratio? There’s a reason even bikes with a fixed gear still have gears...

Pedals connected directly to the front wheel would be truly awful for virtually all adult bicycle use cases.


Well, the obvious contender for that is the penny farthing. It’s not dreadful (it was good enough to be commercialised with vague success at least), but it’s inconvenienced by the necessary size of the front wheel to make any progress, and the fact that you can’t have a front-wheel brake as you just rotate over the top of the bicycle when applied.


Have you seen a human ride a penny farthing? I don’t think dreadful is overstating it. Sure it made the most of available technology at the time, but one doesn’t need to be expert in bikes to see why this design died.

Just getting on a Penny Farthing can be problematic, given it tries to compensate for 1:1 drive by using an enormous front wheel.


Yep, there’s a bunch of late-Victorian enthusiasts who ride them around London every year: https://pennyfarthingclub.com/

They have obvious faults of course, but they were around for 15-20 years, were better than their predecessors, and didn’t kill off the concept of the bicycle in general to stop future development. That’s enough to give them some credit at least!


I mean, people ride unicycles too. But there's a reason most don't.


We did. The ad for the Rover Safety Bicycle in this article says "Safer than any Tricycle". From Wikipedia you can see that trikes beat bikes by at least a hundred years, depending on your definition: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tricycle#History


Interesting! Trikes make sense. Better stability and have cargo hold capability making them pretty useful for light transport of goods. Alternatives were porters or an actual cart; horse, ox or human drawn.


They did ish. (from the article https://rootsofprogress.org/img/early-bicycle-models.png)

I think the big problem is weight, you probably had to be fit to ride, so why pootle around on something safer and even heavier. Its like trying to get a mamil to ride a sit up and beg.


It's dangerous in a curve as you can't lean.

But a trike with a big front wheel could have had a decent speed with direct drive and yet be less dangerous than a penny farthing.




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